CRIME on Teesside has fallen by 18 per cent, compared to this time last year, figures released by Cleveland Police Authority show.

The number of offences in February was 5,670, down from 6,929 during the same month last year.

The figures do not specify which crimes have fallen but the statistics were yesterday welcomed by police authority chairman Councillor Ken Walker.

He said: "It is important to issue some health warnings with initial figures. For example, there could be some slight variations when they are finalised and inevitably there could be some ebbs and flows over the short-term.

"But I do think we can take some satisfaction in the clear message that, across the force area, they are coming down.

"They certainly vindicate the decision we took a year ago to recognise the need to put additional resources into front-line policing, especially the Middlesbrough and Stockton districts, which were clearly under heavy pressure."

The figures, which are subject to final approval, show there was 23 a per cent fall in crime in Middlesbrough, from 2,780 in February last year, to 2,143 last month.

Stockton's figures dropped by 20 per cent from 1,833 to 1,456 offences.

Crime in Hartlepool and Langbaurgh over the same period fell by 11 and ten per cent respectively.

Next year, the force will have 60 more officers and a further 60 police community support officers.

Coun Walker said: "These figures show we can make a difference and the challenge now is to maintain the momentum."